The Lego/Time Continuum

Like the ghost of a dear friend dead
Is Time long past.
A tone which is now forever fled,
A hope which is now forever past,
A love so sweet it could not last,
Was Time long past.

There were sweet dreams in the night
Of Time long past:
And, was it sadness or delight,
Each day a shadow onward cast
Which made us wish it yet might last–
That Time long past.

There is regret, almost remorse,
For Time long past.
‘Tis like a child’s belovèd corse
A father watches, till at last
Beauty is like remembrance, cast
From Time long past.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley


Well if that wasn’t upbeat and uplifting I don’t know what would be. I mean really, I feel like I could run a marathon, start a new business and build a school for children in a third-world country. If only I had the time. Okay, so maybe that poem wasn’t so uplifting, but I hope it made you think. Remember back to last week when we are on that roller coaster that kept moving forward and there was nothing we could do to stop it? Uh huh, that’s time. It doesn’t stop. There’s no cord to pull, nobody to yell at to have pull the train to the side and let you off. You’re stuck. Feel like you’re gonna puke? Too bad. Time doesn’t stop until you pull into the station. Then you are dead. You can puke when you’re dead. I have a feeling that saying is going to catch on.

My point here is not to make you depressed or sad, but to show you that time is limited. Think of it like the cash in your wallet. You can keep taking money out, but soon there won’t be any left. There is an end to it. In my case that end is very soon… in the financial sense. No really, I’m po’. I can’t even afford the second “o” or the “r”. In the temporal sense we are all poor (but no so bad that we can’t afford all the letters). There is no credit card we can use to borrow more time. Decades by Discover Card. Moments by MasterCard. They don’t exist! It’s only cold hard cash. 

So if time is the currency of life, where do you spend it? No seriously, that was not rhetorical. I triple-dog dare you to the following exercise which I’ll explain. Yes I went there; this is a triple-dog dare. Why, because I know most of you are lazy and won’t actually do this without a little extra encouragement. Consider yourself encouraged. In fact, I dare you, triple-dog style again, to complete this exercise fully and comment below that it didn’t give some insight into yourself. So, here’s what I want you to do. Take out a paper and pen, your smartphone, your tablet or wherever you can make notes. We are going to see a week’s portion of where you are spending life’s currency. Look at your last week. Start listing everything you can think of: driving, work, school, working out, TV, Facebook, family time, hobbies, video games and everything else! Then next to each item write the amount of time you spent (curious how this word is used so much with time) on these activities. Now tally up the same, or similar, items and the amount of time spent on them for the entire week. Now list where you spent your time from largest down to smallest. Too much time watching TV? Too little time with the kids or the significant other? Almost no time spent on what you really enjoy? What about time spent working towards life goals? Surprised? Disappointed? Disgusted?  I know I was.

A good financial coach will do a similar activity with your spending history. They’ll look at your history and tally up where you spent your hard-earned cash. Why does it matter? Well, what we spend our money on is a reflection of what we value. Most people value their shelter or their food. Some people value eating out more than their children’s college savings or their own secure retirement. They are literally eating their kids, or their own, future away! We will most likely cover budgeting and money in more detail in later posts. For now, suffice it to say that there is a way that we can tell our money what we value instead of it telling us. It is called a budget! Some people think it is a dirty word, but it is truly the best way to show our money what we value in life. Will we show that we value future, generosity, relationships and love?

What about our little activity with time? Did it tell you that you valued future, generosity, relationships and love? If you didn’t like what it told you about yourself then guess what? You can change it! You can budget your time better and show it what you value and not vice versa. Budget is actually the perfect word here. We’ve established that time is limited, just like our money. On that note, there are two phrases that absolutely drive me crazy. Like eye twitch, neck-cock-to-the-side and body-shake kind of crazy. These two phrases are “have more time” and “find more time”.

First up is “have more time”. I hate the sound of it. I almost cringe when I hear it. We’ve all heard it. Oh I’ll take care of that when I have more time. When I have more time I’ll do _________ (insert thing you’ve always wanted to do but never just had the time). What’s the big deal? Well, have you ever woken up in the morning and suddenly just had more time? You know, all those times you are driving to work, or school, and the radio person is telling you the weather, “today is 85 and partly cloudy. Oh and by the way today has 27 hours instead of 24.” It…doesn’t…happen! You will not miraculously just have more time. You are not Mary the Mother of Time; there will be no immaculate birth of more time! Ok, I got that one out of my system. What people are really saying when they this is that they don’t value whatever it is enough to put in in their time budget. Maybe, when their budget has a surplus it will make the cut, but how often does that happen?

Next up is “find more time”. I find this one slightly less cringe worthy. It gives a little more hope that the time will be encountered. If infers that the person is a least keeping an eye out for more time. What I don’t like about this phrase is it doesn’t strongly infer action. It almost seems like they will just accidentally stumble upon more time. The family dog will tear open its toy and spread white fluffy time all over the living room. Or they’ll sneak off in the darkness of night towards the kitchen for a midnight snack. Along the way a sharp, overwhelming pain shoots from the foot up the leg and ultimately out the mouth. They scream, “Yeeeeeow, I’ve stepped on some time!!!” Nope, it was just another one of the kid’s freaking Legos. Seriously, have you ever stepped on one of those things? Worst…pain…ever! No really, women tell me I’ll never experience anything like childbirth. I tell them I’ve stepped on a Lego! That shuts them up real quick.

So what can we say that is better? Well, there is always “make” time. I will make time for this. I can make time for that. If we don’t value the activity enough to put it on our budget then let’s be honest. Tell yourself, or the other person(s), that you aren’t going to do it. That is more honest than you’ll get to it when you “have” more time. Put the things that truly matter on your budget: your responsibilities to family, a significant other or budding relationship, your work, your school, personal health, your goals and your dreams. 

I hope after reading this you can change your perspective of time and how you spend it. I dare you (I know I need to go easy on this daring business) to not cringe when you hear people use these cop-out words of “have” and “find.” Actually, I not-so-secretly want you to cringe a bit. Hopefully you can catch yourself saying these phrases and start to cut them out of your vocabulary. It may not be best to call out other people though. Don’t yell out “Liar!!” to anyone’s face please; even though you know they have almost no intention to make time. You can think “Liar” to yourself… and cringe. Please cringe. Then perhaps, at a later date, send them the link to this post. 

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